Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Another Edition Of Vox Populi: Christmas Mail Bag Bulges With Reader Insights On The Mayor's Race, The Crime Wave, AG Balderas, The Food Tax, Michelle's Fashion Sense And Much More 

The Christmas mail bag is full so we have a lot to get to in this edition of Vox Populi. Here's a reader with lengthy political experience who is thinking about the '17 race for ABQ mayor:

Joe, Who is tough enough to fix APD both by growing it and holding bad actors accountable? Who can navigate the unions and nine city councilors to ultimately achieve success for the city? Who can work with APS in a meaningful way to help our kids succeed? Who can really latch onto what needs to be done to keep our kids from leaving and both grow our local economy and attract new companies to locate here? Which of the candidates has a long term vision, a plan to realize the vision and the skill set to execute it? I frankly don't see a "change" candidate and if Albuquerque ever needed change, it's now. I'm really afraid of the downward spiral that we're in--a dysfunctional APD fails to inhibit crime which destroys our quality of life and economy; a failing school system both contributes to crime and the lack of a solid work force which in turn discourages economic investment and all of that means our kids are leaving. 


Attorney and former APD officer Tom Grover writes:

A little more than two years ago this city saw protests on an unprecedented scale when a mentally disturbed person was shot and killed in the foothills of. Yet here we are in 2016 and we have seen more of our city's children murdered, tortured, mutilated, sexually assaulted, and defiled than anytime in recent memory and there's all but a shrug here in town. We even get the grotesque opportunism by Mayor Berry as he enshrouds himself in the most recent tragedy to be weeper-in-chief. I am beyond outraged at what Berry, (Chief Administrative Officer Rob) Perry, and his cronies (that's you Chief Eden) have endorsed and let grow and spread throughout this city like a cancer: Indifference. 2017 is when we take this City back.


Reader and former ABQ City Councilor Greg Payne writes of the gruesome discovery this week of the body of a  man found dumped behind an ABQ Wal-Mart in the NE Heights who had been decapitated and who was missing his genitals.

What the hell is going on in this town?  And why the hell isn't the public holding Mayor Berry, Eden and the City Council accountable for our death spiral downward? If you had an Hispanic Democrat mayor and/or a Hispanic Chief of Police you would see a much different response from the older, white conservative voters in this city (which is also true of A.R.T.). What that voting block thinks - but won't say out loud - is, "Well, it would be so much worse if we didn't have a white Republican running the show." But how much worse could it possibly get after having an honest to goodness Okie from Muskogee in charge for the past seven years? Would it take Albuquerque looking like Aleppo before they got upset and held the city leadership accountable? I really have my doubts if even that would outweigh their baser motivations.

We can only add that the leaderhip vacuum in this town is abhorrent. In preparation for the mayoral and city council contests, we're erecting a "No Bullshit Zone." What are they going to do about it? By the way, Mayor Berry is from Nebraska, not Oklahoma, but he may as well be in either of those places for all he's doing here.


Reader Theresa Trujeque, writes:

Hi Joe, Regarding Attorney General Hector Balderas and your comment that a large segment of the Democratic population thinks he is too soft on Governor Martinez. I don't know whom you are defining as the Democratic population. As an involved Democrat both in the party and in the community, I have heard nothing but praise for what Hector has done as Attorney General. In fact, a very involved Democrat for more than 40 years told me that Hector has done more in his 2 years in office than the past 4 attorneys general. Hector has been in office less than 2 years and he's already taken down two of Martinez' cronies. What other attorney general has done that? So, let's give credit where credit is due. If Hector had not prosecuted Secretary of State Dianna Duran we would not have Maggie Toulouse Oliver as Secretary of State. I believe Hector does what he thinks is best for the state of New Mexico and not what your "population" of Democrats think is best.

Thanks, Theresa. Let's explain.

--Balderas has come under criticism in some Democratic quarters for being less than aggressive as state auditor when he was presented with possible wrongdoing regarding the Martinez administration's controversial awarding of the Downs at ABQ racino lease.

--He has also been scored for not recommending any jail time for former Sec. of State Duran who was convicted on corruption charges. A judge imposed a 30 day sentence.

--He received criticism from Democrats for writing a letter, along with former NM Dem Party Chairman Brian Colon, urging the state Senate to approve Republican Matt Chandler as a member of the UNM Regents. Chandler ran a political action committee attacking Dem legislative candidates.

--The attorney general also was attacked by other Democrats when upon taking office he dismissed many Democratic attorneys who had worked for his predecessor, Democrat Gary King.

The second "crony" Theresa refers to is former Taxation and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla who resigned last week when the attorney general's office escalated its investigation of criminal allegations against her.


On the Monday blog the self-described "Crockagator" referred to the state's $15 billion Land Grant Permanent School Fund as a "rainy day fund" and also criticized State Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith. That got reader Mick up in arms:

Joe, It ain't a rainy day fund! It's for the entire state when the extracting industries run out of things to extract. That we already tap the interest generated by the fund is cause for caution. Looking at the economy's future, we may need those dollars sooner than we thought. As for John Arthur Smith, but for his hand on the tiller the ship of state may have sunk into bankruptcy given the demands for funds for New Mexico's "needs." He's been conservatively responsible in his approach to finances. There are other Senators and Representatives who would like to either run rampant with tax increases or run rampant with tax cuts. Senator Smith has trod the middle (well slightly left of middle) ground. We taxpayers should be thankful.


A reader writes of the move afoot in Santa Fe to reinstate the food tax:

We just had an election where the very flawed Republican candidate for President won by picking off alienated working class Democrats who felt neglected by the out of touch elites in their own party. This food tax proposal is just a money grab. It is easier to go after this pot of money than to take on the special interests who are protecting their own honey pots. I don’t see how Rep. Brian Egolf, who will be House speaker,  keeps control of the House in 2018 with a slogan of “you put us back in charge of the House and we re-imposed the food tax!” 


Reader David Dekker doesn't think Dem US Senator Martin Heinrich was too tough when he called Secretary of Energy-designate Rick Perry "utterly unqualified" for the office:

I think Heinrich 's response to Perry is spot on. Playing nice has resulted in the Democrats defeat for years. It's actually refreshing for Heinrich to speak forcefully for once. Dems better fight or we will lose our democracy.


Suzanne Shannon writes:

I agree that moving Expo NM out of Albuquerque is an excellent idea--to Moriarty, perhaps? That small town is a natural for the state fair and would benefit from the business. But I also feel somewhat skeptical that the fairgrounds would then be developed in a thoughtful and prudent way. Look at what happened with the West Side of Albuquerque over the years. Look at Mesa del Sol. Both are “planned” as miles and miles of unbroken tracts of tacky-tacky housing, not an “urban oasis” interspersed with parks, walking paths, trees, adequate public transportation, etc. I’m afraid all-powerful developers would take over such a project because of their political influence and create a mess there instead of a well-planned residential and commercial area/ The people of Albuquerque haven’t in the past tried hard enough to fight for the creation of a beautiful city. Paris, it ain’t.


ABQ Dem State Rep. Debbie Armstrong writes of the contention made here by a Republican analyst that Dem governor candidate Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham has no experience in the private sector:

Michelle was co-founder, with me, of Delta Consulting Group. We opened the business in 2008 and it is still operational. At the time of Michelle’s involvement, we were awarded a contract to manage the New Mexico Medical Insurance Pool and numerous other small consulting contracts. We employed 2 or 3 others, in addition to us, as well as occasional contract employees. So, she has indeed been a business owner, employer and responsible for writing paychecks!


A reader writes of Rep. Steve Pearce, a possible '18 GOP governor candidate and the over $1 million he has in his federal campaign account:

Joe, You ponder Pearce moving his war chest to a SuperPAC, but couldn't he also use it for ABQ TV in a brand building way if he never says what he's running for? Perhaps not once he's formally declared, but a few hundred thousand in human interest type pieces talking about helping little old ladies fix their social security challenges would be just an initial salvo in a much pricier overall 2018 campaign season.


Kamala Harris
Reader Leslie writes:

I sure am glad you blogged that Rep. Lujan Grisham sported a navy blue dress with pearl strands in the video she released announcing her run for the Democratic nomination for governor. 

Can you tell her that as we women get older and the ol' neck starts to sag wearing a rounded neck can appear very frumpy and not flattering to the face. Her best bet if she wants to look like a CEO is to wear suits, dresses, blouses that are V necked. Not so V necked as to be provocative with cleavage. I think a good example is California Senator-elect Kamala Harris.

Oh, you hit the funny bone with that one, Leslie.

Now that was one of the better editions of Vox Populi. Keep it coming, folks. . .

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